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Zoom lens for surfing - SL1

Stocktsi
Contributor

I’ve been trying to get some good pics of my son surfing, but he’s typically a little far out for my 55-250 STM.  While I really like this lens for my daughter’s soccer games it’s just a little too short for surf shots.  

 

Budget is a moderate consideration (don’t want to spend $1,000 but a couple hundred is Ok) I was looking at the Canon 75-300 but I’m worried about no image stabilization.  Only other lens that looks like it would fit the bill is the 70-300, either gen 1 or 2.  Is there a big difference between these if I can find the gen 1?

 

Any other lenses (Canon or non-Canon) that I should consider?

 

thanks in advance.

17 REPLIES 17

MikeSowsun
Authority

There is no lens you can buy for about $200 that will take better photos than your EF-S 55-250 STM.

 

There really isn’t that much difference between 250mm and 300mm. Plus, the 75-300, and both versions of the 70-300 are not as sharp at 300mm as the 55-250 is at 250mm. You could  just crop the 250mm image slightly to match 300mm and still have a better photo.

 

I would suggest saving your money until you can afford something 400mm or longer.

 

Mike Sowsun

Hi Stocksi:

 

Three questions on your photography, if I may.

a)  How far away is your son when he is surfing?

b)  What are the conditions like normally when you are taking photos.  Do you usually have plenty of light or is it likely to be pretty dim?

c)  What do you want to produce from the images you take?   For example, are they to post on social media, put on computer or tablet screens, make small prints 8x11 or larger prints?

 

 

cheers: Trevor

 


cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"


@MikeSowsun wrote:

There is no lens you can buy for about $200 that will take better photos than your EF-S 55-250 STM.

 

There really isn’t that much difference between 250mm and 300mm. Plus, the 75-300, and both versions of the 70-300 are not as sharp at 300mm as the 55-250 is at 250mm. You could  just crop the 250mm image slightly to match 300mm and still have a better photo.

 

I would suggest saving your money until you can afford something 400mm or longer.

 


I must strongly disagree with Mike on his low opinion of the relative merits of the 70-300mm lens.  I own both versions of this lens and I spent some time investigating the performance of both the MkI and MkII and can say they both take decent photos, the MkII in particular because of its blazingly fast and accurate focus,which is a leader in its class and offers 4 stops of IS, which has been proven to be an accurate value.

 

I refer you to my thread on this:  70-300mm Non-L lenses to judge the images for yourself.

 

With just one search effort  I found that one can get the EF 70-300 MkII version for around $500 from Adorama and if you went to Canon you could well get a refurbished one for even less.

 

One of the questions I have asked  is what you want to do with your photos.  An SL1 is not a pro or prosumer level camera, so I am trying to establish what level of quality is required.  The trap we enthusiasts fall into is to suggest a level of gear that WE want for the kind of images we would like to create instead of what is adequate, both technically and financially for the person seeking advice.  You asked for a ZOOM lens, and if you were to follow Mike's advice about a 400mm reach you would either have to go for a fixed focal length lens or pay dearly for a heavy zoom unit.

 

For example, if the budget is roughly $400, how long will he have to wait until you get enough money to get a decent super tele, zoom and while time goes by how many irreplacable moment will be missed?  If the intent is to post on social media, or on tablets and screens, or produce reasonable sized prints the EF 70-300 MKII IS USM would be perfectly adequate, even if cropped  as I demonstrated in my thread.

 

There is also the question of physical balance.  The SL1 is a pretty small unit and to my knowledge does not support a battery grip.  so sticking a large, heavy lens on the front of it will not be a good balance.  The 70-300 units are a reasonable weight and bulk for such a dminutive body.


cheers, TREVOR

Before you ask us, have you looked in the manual or on the Canon Support Site?
"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
"

Thank you for the info so far.  Yes, I did see the 70-300 at the Canon site for $500, plus $50 off.  I meant to say that I was looking to spend in the hundreds as opposed to $1,000 so wasn’t trying to limit it to $200 just keep it reasonable,

 

i cant tell how far out he’s surfing - hard for me to judge distance over water.  It’s far enough that with my 55-250 lens at max I still have to crop a fair amount of the image to get a tight shot.  Attached are before and after examples to give you an idea.  Most of the time I expect good lighting, but there will be cloudy days to deal with.  We’re in San Diego so there’s a pretty good marine layer over the beach in the AM so there’s light but not full sunshine.

 

for my target, yes of course social media is important these days.  If I can get some good ones I’d like to be able to get good 4x6 prints, and outside chance of 8x11 if I was lucky enough to get that magic shot at the right time.

 

i realize the SL1 isn’t a top of the line camera, but it’s my entry back into SLR and I’d like to be able to upgrade in the future as needed without having to buy all new lenses.

 

9E5E18F2-8868-40D1-9407-2A250C77D7B4.pngCFFA81A6-C93A-4C26-A107-889A85DDBC31.png

Get yourself either an SX50HS, SX60HS or SX70HS and you'll be able to get quality pictures of his toes and toenails on the board...my 2 cents 🙂

Your exif data might tell you how far out he is.

 


@Stocktsi wrote:

Thank you for the info so far.  Yes, I did see the 70-300 at the Canon site for $500, plus $50 off.  I meant to say that I was looking to spend in the hundreds as opposed to $1,000 so wasn’t trying to limit it to $200 just keep it reasonable,

 

i cant tell how far out he’s surfing - hard for me to judge distance over water.  It’s far enough that with my 55-250 lens at max I still have to crop a fair amount of the image to get a tight shot.  Attached are before and after examples to give you an idea.  Most of the time I expect good lighting, but there will be cloudy days to deal with.  We’re in San Diego so there’s a pretty good marine layer over the beach in the AM so there’s light but not full sunshine.

 

for my target, yes of course social media is important these days.  If I can get some good ones I’d like to be able to get good 4x6 prints, and outside chance of 8x11 if I was lucky enough to get that magic shot at the right time.

 

i realize the SL1 isn’t a top of the line camera, but it’s my entry back into SLR and I’d like to be able to upgrade in the future as needed without having to buy all new lenses.

 


Okay, I see that we cross posted.  You posted the exact type of images I was looking for.  

 

I think your shots would benefit immensely if you used a monopod, or tripod.  For action photography, a monopod seems to work better for most people.  Eliminate camera shake the old-fashioned way, support your gear. 

 

Long telephoto lenses are not inexpensive.  No half-stepping.  Either take the plunge and by a $1000 lens, or save your money.  I think the suggestion of an all-in-one camera is a good one.  Again, the longer the focal length, the more you need a means of supporting your camera to reduce camera shake.

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"The right mouse button is your friend."

Waddizzle
Legend
Can you post a sample uncropped image of the surfer? Maybe a Sigma or Tamron 100-400 has enough reach.
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"The right mouse button is your friend."

wq9nsc
Authority

With the distance involved in surfing, you need reach far more than you need zoom.  And remember you will keep a good quality lens for a lot longer period of time than a camera body so it is worth stretching to get the best within your budget.

 

You should have decent light most of the time so seriously consider a Canon 400 F5.6 prime, new it is a tad over $1,000 while used you can find one in great condition for well under $1,000.  It is a much higher quality lens than the zoom lens you are currently considering and will also take the Canon 1.4X converter (provides 560 at F8) but I don't think your SL1 will provide autofocus at F8 so would need to focus manually when coupled with the 1.4X.

 

I bought a 400 F5.6 many years ago when I purchased a 1D Mark II and I shot a lot of my daughter's soccer games with it among other uses. I still have it and use it occasionally but most of the time I now use faster telephoto primes but that doesn't mean that the 400 F5.6 isn't still a very good lens.  The image below was shot at the end of a fast moving play so I was way out of position from the goal and this highly cropped image is from just under 10% of the sensor area and it shows the ability of the 400MM F5.6 to provide excellent resolution.

 

Rodger

 

AQ9I9436.JPG

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